Davis, dubbed Charles Manson's "right-hand man," is currently serving a life sentence at California Men's Colony for his role in the murders of musician Gary Hinman and Spahn's Ranch hand Donald "Shorty" Shea. Davis was not involved in the Manson Family's infamous Tate-Labianca murders.
"These cult murders have left an indelible mark on the public — the Manson Family is still feared to this day," Brown wrote in his decision blocking Davis' release. "Incredibly heinous and cruel offenses like these constitute the 'rare circumstances' in which the crime alone can justify a denial of parole."
Davis was initially sentenced to death in 1972 before the punishment was changed to life in prison. In February, Davis had his 31st parole meeting, and for the fifth time, the board recommended his release. However, the governor of California – Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2010, Edmund G. Brown Jr. in 2013 and Brown in 2014, 2016 and 2017 – has reversed the parole board's decision each time.
In his time behind bars, Davis earned his doctorate degree, converted to Christianity and ministers other inmates, Newsweek reports. However, despite 25 years without incident during his incarceration, Brown said Davis' "continued minimization of his own violence and his role in the Manson Family further shows that he remains an unreasonable risk to the public."
Similarly, in July 2016, Brown denied parole for Manson Family member Leslie Van Houten, despite the parole board's recommendation for release. Three months later in October, Bobby Beausoleil – another Manson Family member found guilty for Hinman's murder – was also denied parole, partly due to failing to gain permission to sell the music he recorded while incarcerated.